There's a red hot 2020 race for Montana's one at-large congressional district to replace pugilistic multimillionaire Greg Gianforte. State Rep. Tom Winter is the progressive in the race, although the DCCC thinks they've found their very own 'next Jeff Van Drew' and are working against Winter.
We asked him to help us understand what's going on in his state in regard to his race, one that the national media has been almost completely ignoring.
"Running for Congress as a Democrat out here in Montana," he told us, "can get lonely... not because of the seven hour drives to fundraisers in Billings-- I like the road. It’s not the blizzards-- I like winter, after all. And it's certainly not Montana being unfriendly to Democrats-- I previously won a +11 point Trump district, and Democrats represent us in the Governor’s mansion and in the U.S. Senate."
"No," he continued, "it's lonely because within my own party it seems at times that I am one of the only voices fighting for Democratic principles at all. From impeachment to the climate crisis to workers’ rights to healthcare, I find myself battling against Republican talking points spouted by my establishment Democratic opponent... For months I have been the only Montana congressional candidate from either party loudly and cogently making the argument for impeachment. Any Democratic candidate that is not supporting the hard work of Congress on impeachment is running against the party and the values that make us who we are.
His primary opponent refuses to acknowledge Trump’s impeachable offenses and uses GOP talking points to belittle the effort. "I look forward to hearing what he has to say," she said, "and to Congress getting back to the work of the people." That's not doing the work of the people? "The Montana GOP," Tom told us, "is already using my primary opponent’s waffling on impeachment to claim that the process lacks bipartisanship and proof that Montanans support the President over our Constitution. We cannot keep doing the Republicans’ work for them."
Today, Blue America has endorsed Tom Winter for Congress, our first endorsement of the new year. Please consider clicking on the 2020 congressional thermometer and contributing to his campaign. One of his top concern has been the Climate Crisis:
Montanans are already losing their towns and their jobs to the climate crisis. Our wildfire season grows longer every year. In the summers we evacuate pregnant women, children, and the elderly away from our valleys enveloped in smoke. Those who cannot leave face permanent lung damage. And our West Coast neighbors will no longer buy coal-fired power, so thousands of Montanans lose their jobs as our power plants and coal mines shut down. This is the politics of climate change in struggling rural communities-- lost jobs, lost towns, and permanent health damage for those who cannot afford to get to safety.
Amidst all of this, my primary opponent continues to accept fossil fuel money, and refuses to speak to the crisis except in the most abstract of terms. It is like it is all happening to someone else-- and of course it is. It happens to those of us who cannot afford to evacuate when the smoke gets chokingly thick, to those those whose parents lose their jobs and are immediately underwater on their mortgage in a town where the only employer is a coal-fired power plant that abruptly shut down last month.
And the DCCC opposes Medicare-for-All, while Tom supports it. He finds it hard to believe that he's the only Democrat calling for healthcare to be treated as a human right. "The current system is a disservice to us all, yet my primary opponent believes it can be fixed by allowing rich 60 year olds to buy into Medicare. That is the actual plan (and only) their campaign is putting forth... Of everything I have mentioned-- the acceptance of this lawless President, the silence on the climate crisis-- this is the cruelest cut, the one I do not forgive, because you cannot be a Montanan and not have known the suffering of people without healthcare."
It worries Tom and his fellow progressives when they are told their values are not Democratic Party values. "We are the people that believe the President threatens our safety, that the climate crisis is an ongoing catastrophe, that organized labor is the natural backbone of the party, and that everyone deserves healthcare as a human right. Some of our Republican neighbors disagree with us. That makes sense, because these are Democratic values. But to have a serious contender for our nomination stay silent-- or worse yet, parrot Republican talking points back at us on these very issues? It beggars belief. And yet here we are. We need help.
We cannot call ourselves the party of the people if we do not win the confidence of working families in places like Montana. And we cannot call ourselves progressives if we allow the party to nominate candidates that do not stand against this President, who will not speak about the climate crisis, who do not stand for workers’ rights, and whose idea of a healthcare plan is to allow rich 60 year olds to buy into Medicare. Montana Democrats deserve a candidate who will stand with them, not with Republicans. My voters knows where I stand-- with them."